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  1. Technology
November 8, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

People pin all sorts of hopes on the Internet, from delivering education to remote communities, to improving everyday quality of life by enabling people to deal with mundane chores rapidly, and now London-based public sector research specialist Kable Ltd’s latest report suggests that it could revitalise the UK’s democratic process. Tomorrow’s Town Hall looks at the type of information technology local government will have, and the use to which it will be put, in 2000. It postulates that although we won’t see people voting over the Internet, the increased access ordinary people will have to local councils using the medium will encourage a greater sense of involvement and lead to more people voting; the percentage of people voting in the UK’s local elections is consistently low at around 40%. The report is based on interviews with members of local councils, professional societies, academics and think tanks, and presents its predictions through the eyes of a family moving to the fictious town of Wellstown, where the council provides all its information on line. The predictions are based on existing technology and draw heavily on the multitude of pilot schemes being run in the UK by local councils on the potential for information technology to improve their relationship with the citizens they serve. The key points are that the television, via a set-top box, and not a personal computer, will be the way people access and receive information, entertainment and other services on the Information Superhighway, using intelligent agents to sift through the information and using voice commands rather than a keyboard or remote control system to activate it; people will have a Lifecard, a Smart Card with credit and debit facilities, driving licence, National Health Service numbers and voluntary identification, all in one; cash is likely to be heading into obsolescence, replaced by a Mondex-type system; and public access terminals to the Internet and government information will be commonplace.

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